Cutting ozone pollution using the Clean Air Act will have saved $2 trillion by 2020 and prevented at least 230,000 deaths annually, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a report.
Tougher emission restrictions adopted in 1990 helped avoid more than 160,000 premature deaths, 130,000 heart attacks, 13 million lost work days and 1.7 million asthma attacks last year, according to today’s report, which measured only the impact of amendments from 1990. By 2020, complying with the amendments would prevent 200,000 heart attacks, 17 million lost work days and 2.4 million asthma attacks, according to the report.
“The Clean Air Act’s decades-long track record of success has helped millions of Americans live healthier, safer and more productive lives,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.
The EPA’s actions and rules tightening ozone standards were cited as costly and damaging by ConocoPhillips, Boeing Co. and the National Association of Manufacturers in response to a call from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa to identify rules needing review.
Of 111 regulations cited in letters the companies sent to Issa, a California Republican, 57 were issued by the EPA.
The EPA’s report, required by the 1990 amendments, studies the effects of regulations on the economy, environment and public health from 1990 through 2020. It was released before Gina McCarthy, assistant EPA administrator, testified to a House panel on greenhouse-gas rules and the effect on U.S. jobs.
Business leaders told lawmakers that the regulations have been onerous and stunted growth. Hugh Joyce, president of James River Air Conditioning Inc. in Richmond, Virginia, said new construction is down and winning a permit takes more than six months. He said environmental regulations cost his company, with 150 employees, about $150,000 each year.
“The EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases will substantially enlarge the regulated community, increase standards to near impossible levels, and impose severe paperwork and compliance burdens on small-business owners at a time when America’s small businesses can least afford it,” Joyce said.
Mike Carey, president of the Ohio Coal Association, said an “onslaught of regulations” from the agency will likely accelerate the closing of coal-fired power plants, undercutting efforts to make the U.S. independent of foreign energy sources. The U.S. will be challenged in competing with nations such as China that are subsidizing coal producers, he said.
“We absolutely must oppose the new effort by the Obama administration to eliminate coal through the new proposed plant emissions and greenhouse gas regulations,” Carey said.
McCarthy said individuals and businesses have said expanding regulations pose a threat, and groups warned that the 1990 amendments would cost millions of jobs. Instead, the U.S. gets $30 in health benefits for every dollar spent, she said.
“In contrast to doomsday predictions, history has shown, again and again, that we can clean up pollution, create jobs, and grow our economy all at the same time,” McCarthy said.
Representative David McKinley, a West Virginia Republican elected last year, said he was concerned that the jobs created and the financial benefits wouldn’t help his district, where coal mines may be forced to close and permits are slow to be approved. His constituents are “scared to death” of losing their jobs from over-regulation, he said.
“How can you say that the enforcement of greenhouse gases will create jobs and the people of West Virginia will be OK?” McKinley said.
McCarthy said the EPA has been identifying the most cost-effective ways for new companies to get permits. With concerns about the environment, she said people shouldn’t have to decide between “clean jobs and good jobs.”
Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, complained the panel didn’t include scientists to discuss climate change. In response, Ed Whitfield, the chairman of the subcommittee on Energy and Power, scheduled a hearing for next week on new studies that link climate change to weather.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, has introduced legislation to prevent the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide through the Clean Air Act after Congress failed to pass climate-change legislation.
“We live in a global economy with global competition, and nations like China have absolutely no intention of similarly burdening their interests,” Upton said at today’s hearing. “Manufacturing jobs will leave this country unless EPA is stopped.”